Sparks flew on and off the stage in Tyler, Texas, during the debate about online lesson plan provider CSCOPE between State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff and lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick, both Republicans.
Ratliff and Patrick faced a balanced three-person panel made up of JoAnn Fleming, chair of the Tea Party Caucus Advisory Committee, Hudson ISD Superintendent Mary Ann Whiteker, whose school is currently using CSCOPE, and the Quorum Report's Scott Braddock.
Ratliff said many of the issues raised by Patrick about the content of the lessons are not just limited to schools who use CSCOPE plans.
"The scope and sequence document from Kline ISD in Senator Patrick's district showing that a non-CSCOPE school district teaches about Islam, teaches about Judaism, teaches about Buddhism, teaches about Socialism, Fascism, Communism," Ratliff said.
He said the content for the 80 lessons designed for the social studies curriculum in Klein ISD didn't come from CSCOPE, and instead came from the previous State Board of Education's demands for the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) test.
But Patrick said its about more than content, saying the board running CSCOPE maintained questionable business practices since its creation.
"This is bigger than calling tea party patriots terrorist and arguing that," Patrick said. "This is about an entity that was set up illegally in my view. This is about entity that spent millions of taxpayer dollars that are unaccounted for that’s why I called for a state audit and it begins next month."
Ratliff countered this allegation by providing proof that the group running CSCOPE was set up correctly with then Secretary of State Esperanza "Hope" Andrade's approval, all which can be accessed through an online file he provided the public during the debate.
- Click here to access the DropBox files. Username: firstname.lastname@example.org, Password: CSCOPE
Ratliff said Patrick can thank himself for the reason 875 Texas schools continue to use the online materials today.
"You have done a wonderful job getting the subscriber agreement re-written," Ratliff told Patrick. "You’ve asked that the lessons be placed online and so now they’re in the public domain for free. Now you need to stop and back away and let local communities take it from here."
The state has granted Patrick’s request for an audit of the non-profit group running CSCOPE, which will take place next month.